Thoughts on “WomanCode” by Alisa Vitti: May’s Athletic Bookworm Pick
“WomanCode” by Alisa Vitti came at the perfect time for me… hopefully it did for some of you as well! In “WomanCode: Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility, Supercharge Your Sex Drive, and Become a Power Source,” holistic health coach Alisa Vitti shows women how to maintain health and vitality with a food-based program to rebalance their hormones. Which I really, really needed. As I’ve been trying to jumpstart my training with big events like the Killington Stage Race, and then with the thru-hike of La Cloche, I knew I needed to make sure my hormones were working at the right levels. Which I know wasn’t always the case. I’ve had hormone issues in the past—pretty minor ones, but enough that it was making training less effective and I wasn’t feeling quite as good as I knew I could be.
Sadly, like with February’s read, Wired to Eat, a lot of the answer comes down to supporting your body with a pretty low-sugar diet. Ultimately, deep down, I know that’s something I need to work on, but with travel and racing, I know I have a tendency to rely on high sugar/processed crap the second that the going gets rough.
So, let’s talk about some of the highlights from this awesome book! (The sections, which made me immediately want to dive in: “Stabilize your blood sugar, Nurture your adrenal glands, Support your organs of elimination, Syncing with your menstrual cycle, Engage your feminine energy.”
Think About What You REALLY Want
“Take the lid off your reality jar: What would your life look like if you dreamed big and set goals to reflect your fantasies? Take time tonight to think about what you want your life to be like this time next year. What are your dreams? Hopes? What is the wildest and most special thing that could happen for you in the next twelve months? Don’t be practical. Imagine yourself jumping high and peering over the lid of the jar.”
OK, so for me, I have the tendency to do the “I’ll start this tomorrow” thing when it comes to certain things I know will be good for me… But that I don’t want to do. Ahem, dropping a lot of the sugar out of my diet. (Note: I’m generally pretty good with the 80:20 rule, but I know to optimize my health, that should drop to more of a 90:10 ratio. I’m great with the getting out and training thing, but I do love a good cookie.
So, what do I really want? To be the healthiest, fittest version of me—and I know I’ll feel better in that process.
Sync Work To Your Phases
Stacy Sims top tip for women athletes from her book ROAR and from the interview I did with her recently is to track your cycle. There’s a reason for this beyond just knowing when you have your period: it’s because the four phases of your cycle mean different things for your mind/body. WomanCode really dives into the four weeks of your cycle, and I think there’s so much power in knowing when each will turn up so that you can structure work and workouts around them. “This practice comes back to the idea of using your body as a tool—harnessing your hormones to perform better, smarter, and more proficiently every single day,” Vitti writes.
In the follicular phase, for instance, Vitti suggests putting “your energy into stimulating projects at work and at home. Plan brainstorming sessions with your coworkers; save your most mentally challenging assignments for this week, since your brain’s penchant for creativity at this time makes it easier to problem-solve. Your physical energy is at one of its highest points during your follicular phase. Emotionally, you feel outgoing, upbeat, and revitalized.” She also adds how you should be eating (light cooking methods like sauteeing are great in this part, apparently!).
I found all four phases to be pretty spot-on when I thought through my last month, and I highly recommend starting to track your cycle so you can time your work/training to be maximally efficient.
Stabilize Blood Sugar
This was a big part of the book and I won’t get into it much here because honestly, every person is going to need to read this book and figure out how exactly it applies to them/their needs. When it comes to women’s hormones, generalization about what’s good/bad is pretty problematic, since some of us struggle with things like PCOS, some are low in testosterone, some are too estrogen dominant… And our aims are different. I’m not trying to have a baby, I’m not starting menopause, I’m not in my early 20s anymore. So to give broad recommendations is just bad practice—and luckily, Vitti really tries to help readers figure out what makes the most sense for them. (For me, that means really, really making a serious effort to skip the processed carbs even when they’re the most convenient, and try to keep maximizing the amount of veggies and clean protein that’s in my current diet. It’s a work in progress, but I had made pretty good headway back in February when reading Wired to Eat.)
Anyway, overall, I think this is a great read—even if you’re feeling pretty good already, it’s a good one to get a better understanding of how your body works, and helps you know what to look for if things do start to feel a little ‘off.’
Did you read it? If so, let me know your thoughts in the comments!
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